The MOD’s recruitment crisis: What is going on? | Bolt Burdon Kemp The MOD’s recruitment crisis: What is going on? | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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The MOD’s recruitment crisis: What is going on?

UK troop numbers have plummeted to the lowest levels since the early 1800s after a 32% decline in recruits, new MOD data has revealed.

All services have been affected, including the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The MOD’s data has revealed:

Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force

  • The RAF has seen a 41.5% drop in personnel, falling from 54,600 in 2000 to 31,940 in 2023.
  • The Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel numbers have also decreased 23.9% from 42,800 to 32,590 between 2000 and 2023.

British Army

  • The Army has decreased from 109,600 personnel to 76,950 between 2000 and 2023, a drop of 29.8%.
  • The Army has more people leaving than joining. In 2023, more than 16,000 personnel left, while only 12,000 joined up.

There has been growing concern about further cuts in troops.

The UK Parliament warned the British military is not sufficiently prepared for an all-out war due to ongoing recruitment problems, which is a growing concern given the current political climate.

This sparked conversation as to whether compulsory national service should be resurrected to build the UK’s defence, but a spokesperson for the MOD said: “The British military has a proud tradition of being a voluntary force and there is absolutely no suggestion of a return to conscription.”

What are the reasons for the decline in military troops?

The annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) lists various factors for service persons leaving the Armed Forces voluntarily. In the 2023 report, of those who responded to the survey, the top six reasons for increasing an individual’s intention to leave were given as:

  • Impact of Service life on family and personal life (63%)
  • Opportunities outside the Service (59%)
  • Impact of Service life on spouse / partner’s career (51%)
  • Amount of pay (47%)
  • Childcare (43%)
  • Current job satisfaction (41%)

Systemic failings

The survey does not delve any deeper as to the reasons behind the impact of service life on family and personal life. One can’t help but question whether it is the MOD’s systemic failings which are the real cause here and impacting recruits signing up to the services.

In the last decade in particular, the MOD has recognised it needs to shift its efforts on tackling unacceptable levels of bullying, discrimination, harassment, toxic and hostile working environments, sexual assault and abuse within the military, by introducing new policies to tackle unacceptable behaviours.

However, in reality is the culture changing? And if it is changing, is it changing quickly enough? Unfortunately, these figures suggest it is not.

Whatever the cause, the MOD must do better to protect the UK’s defence services as it is impacting recruit numbers.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp we present service personnel and veterans who have been injured during their service. If you are considering a claim and would like some confidential advice, please contact our team.

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